||[Sep. 10th, 2005|01:41 pm]
New Orleans Trannies
From transnews. |
NOLA Transgendered evacuee arrested
Charged with using women's shower at Reed Arena shelter
By LAURA HENSLEY
Eagle Staff Writer
A 20-year-old transgendered Hurricane Katrina evacuee remained in the Brazos County Jail on Thursday, five days after being arrested for showering inside a women's bathroom at Reed Arena.
Arpollo Vicks of New Orleans and her 16-year-old cousin were arrested Sunday night for criminal trespass after Texas A&M University Police noticed the two exiting a women's shower facility at the shelter. The two were born male but live as women and consider themselves female, Vicks said Thursday in an interview from the jail.
They are the only people who have been arrested at the local shelters since the first one opened Aug. 31, shelter officials said.
According to police who were providing security at the Reed Arena shelter, a woman complained Sunday night that several males were inside the women's shower facility.
Corps of Cadets Commandant John Van Alstyne, who is in charge of the shelter, was notified and told police that he earlier had warned Vicks and the teenager not to shower inside the women's facility.
"I know two males went into the women's rest room," Van Alstyne said Thursday. "It was something we considered inappropriate."
He declined to comment further.
"They had been warned and basically told not to do that," said Elmer Schneider, chief of the University Police Department. "Did we want to arrest them? No. We were almost forced into it because we had warned them. To me, in this case, it was something of their own choosing."
Vicks - who said she never was warned not to shower in the women's bathroom - remained in isolation at the Brazos County Jail on Thursday evening. She was being held on $6,000 bond for criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor.
Vicks' juvenile cousin since has been released from custody, returned to Reed Arena and reunited with her 18-year-old sister, who also is staying there.
"I don't think I should be here," Vicks said during a brief collect telephone call from the jail. "It's foolish. This is nothing to be in jail for. I live like this. This is my life.
"Right now, I'm just scared. I've been here since Sunday, and they haven't told me anything. I've never been in jail before. I'm just not used to this."
According to Vicks, who said she worked as a substitute teacher at a middle school in New Orleans, she had never before encountered a problem when using women's bathrooms. She said she wanted to shower in the women's facility because she felt safer and more comfortable doing so.
Vicks said she did not request special accommodations, but that she did speak to a female volunteer and explained her situation.
Police and shelter officials said they were unaware of any such conversation.
Ann Robison, executive director of a Houston organization that is providing support and housing for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered hurricane evacuees, said special accommodations for Vicks and her cousin should have been provided by the shelter.
"They should've made provisions for her upfront," Robison said. "She considers herself female."
Robison said her organization, the Montrose Counseling Center, doesn't know of any other transgendered hurricane evacuees in similar situations being arrested at shelters. She said she did help one transgendered person at a Conroe shelter relocate after volunteers informed her that the person was being harassed by other evacuees.
"This makes me real sad," Robison said. "People criminalize gender identity issues because they are afraid of it or don't understand it. We understand that people have some fears about it. But it is just sad, and it angers me."
Contacted Thursday night, Robison said she planned to advise the Human Rights Campaign, a gay, lesbian and transgendered civil rights organization in Washington, D.C., that could help Vicks post bail and provide legal assistance. She also said she would try to link Vicks and her cousin with safe housing in Houston.
Vicks sounded frustrated Thursday, recounting how she literally had to swim out of her apartment last week and sleep on an Interstate 10 bridge in New Orleans when the city was flooded by the hurricane. With no money and no way of reaching family, she said she didn't know how she was going to get out of jail.
"I'm just living one day at a time and trying to get this over with," she said. "I've never been through so much in my life."
• Laura Hensley's e-mail address is email@example.com.
She's out of jail now. After a number of advocates and activists from around the country contacted the University, it finally understood that the charges against Arpollo should not go forward. The District Attorney agreed and refused the charges. Arpollo has been released and is in contact with people who are seeking safe housing for her.
We should expect similar situations to arise in the coming weeks and months, though.
x-posted to my own journal